Bridge Center answers questions from interested providers, extends deadline

    Nearly one month after the Bridge Center began soliciting proposals for a service provider, officials have responded to 18 written inquiries from two potential candidates, clarifying the provider’s responsibilities, payment structure and other details.

    On June 19, the Bridge Center for Hope—the long-planned mental health diversion facility for which parish taxpayers last year voted to finance operations—issued a solicitation of proposals for a service provider to offer crisis services at the center, with a July 25 deadline for applying. But last weekend—fearing potentially damaging effects from Tropical Storm Barry—the board extended the deadline by one week, to Aug. 1. 

    In the meantime, interested firms had until last week to submit questions about the contract, the answers to which are now posted on the Bridge Center’s website

    Among inquiries: Is the Bridge Center willing to engage with the state Medicaid authority to work toward a better alignment between the Medicaid regulatory and rate structures and the proposed services—and delay or re-stage any awards in the process? What funding sources can the proposer rely on as income to support the various service domains outlined within the scope of work? Are there funds available to cover anticipated start-up costs for the successful bidder? 

    Responses show the center, recognizing the current Medicaid rate structure poses challenges, “would support efforts to attain a higher rate structure with state Medicaid and Medicaid plans, but will not delay the award during this process.” Additionally, the center says it’s open to being flexible with any innovative rates and financing mechanisms proposed and will work with the proposer to acquire them. Also, since funding isn’t available until January, start-up costs would be negotiated during the contract. (Check out the full Q&A here).

    Meanwhile, board chair Kathy Kliebert says the SOP has been sent to several providers that previously expressed interest in the contract, as well as to established providers, including those for the similar Safe Haven diversion facility in Mandeville. 

    Though there is no goal for how many proposals the board wants to attract, Kliebert says she’d be content with receiving “three to five that meet the qualifications.”

    “The whole goal is to make sure we have one good one,” she says, adding the search committee would include two recommended national experts on crisis stabilization, among others.

    Despite the extended deadline, Kliebert says the rest of the timeline remains on schedule. A provider will be selected in August, with a contract executed in October, while the term of the contract resulting from the SOP starting in January. Operations will begin in March.

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